Prayer Might Not Be What You Think It Is

Prayer might not be what you think it is.

You may have heard stories of people who prayed for something, maybe for a loved one to be freed from cancer, and it didn’t happen. You may also have heard similar stories of people who prayed the same prayer and their loved one did heal from cancer. You may have heard stories about people praising God for sparing their home in the aftermath of a tornado while the house down the street is ripped to shreds.

Hearing these stories and considering my own often gets me thinking about prayer.

The idea of Santa Clause isn’t all that far-fetched when you think about it. Ask the guy up north and make your requests. If you’re good he’ll give you what you asked for, if you’re not, well, try again next year.

Prayer is often approached in the same way. Pray to the guy upstairs and make your requests known. If you’re good he’ll give you what you asked for. Unless of course he doesn’t. If you’re not good he won’t listen. Unless of course he does.

Prayer is quite arbitrary if it’s just about the answer because the answers to your prayers are quite random. It’s like a roll of the dice. Some heal and some don’t. Your house is left standing but not the other. There is no answer. It is what it is. Maybe it’s all part of a bigger plan, maybe it isn’t. It certainly feels nice to believe there is a God in control. I’m not suggesting there isn’t but rather proposing that our understanding of “control” may not be accurate.

Regardless, on the ground it doesn’t make much of a difference. You may or may not heal. You may or may not get the job. Things may or may not go your way. Whether or not they do is perhaps not the point.

Think about it. If prayer is about the answer, we’re constantly left scrambling, trying to understand and making up explanations to make sense of things. God answered because of this or he didn’t answer because of that. The gymnastics involved can be quite exhausting and ridiculous.

Why pray? It must be about more than just answers.

Perhaps prayer makes more sense if it’s about your disposition. Prayer, if anything, is about positioning yourself in awe and wonder or maybe in anger and confusion. It’s an acknowledgment that most things, if not all, are out of your control, arbitrary and chaotic.

Prayer, then, is preparation for what is coming. It is to say, “while I do not have control I choose to remain in the moment and roll with the punches. I will not give up and surrender. I will not lose hope. I acknowledge how easily I can become angry, jaded, self-centred and cynical. I don’t want that.”

Prayer, not unlike other approaches to meditation, is about zoning in on your heart, your soul and your attitude vis-à-vis the variety of things going on in and around you. If you believe in God, your prayer is addressed to that God whom you believe is in control and working to make all things good. Others will find their center within themselves, something or someone else. The purpose is the same. To be whole. To live well. To make sense of things. Opening yourself up to listen, observe and hear.

The thing is, prayer might not be what you think it is. What if it’s not only about what you ask for and not only about whether you get the answer you’re looking for?

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My 6-Step Daily Sit-up Routine

Daily 6 step sit up routine picI’ve been thinking about fitness. I’ve tried many workout routines in my time and have found that most of them simply don’t fit in very nicely with the daily rhythms of an ordinary joe. Many of them require that I go out of my way to get them done. Others are expensive and simply not appealing.

Now that I’m 40 I thought I’d share the daily 6 step sit-up routine that has served me well thus far. Let’s call it the secret to my longevity. Some of you might recognize the routine.

Step 1 (Up): sit up and get out of bed – this is the tough one. You’ve been resting for hours and your body is in a warm and comfortable position. Much determination and will power are needed. If you can get passed this first sit-up, you should be good to go.

*Note: many have found they are good to go only after step 2. This is a matter of preference or personality. If you’re unsure which one you are, take your queues from people around you.

Step 2 (Down): sit down and drink coffee – after what your body just went through with step 1 and to move on to step 3 in a somewhat decent way, step 2 is very important. This is when your body gets its morning shake and the needed energy for the remainder of the sit-up routine. It’s a good idea to have your coffee maker pre-set to brew as you are going through step 1. This will save you some time and will make step 1 easier.

*Note: others who share this routine have reported needing to repeat step 2 one or more times throughout the day.

Step 3 (Up): get up and get ready for work – This next step also requires motivation. It is not as difficult as step 1 and not nearly as pleasant as step 2. Mind over matter. If you’re thinking to far ahead, this sit-up will be excruciating. Just get up and do what needs to be done. What you do here will determine what kind of looks you’ll get throughout the next few hours. Not to be taken lightly.

*Note: there is room for flexibility here. How you prep yourself during this step really depends on where and how you will be setting up for step 4.

Step 4 (Down): sit down and work – Step 4 brings mixed feelings. Some days it’s relatively easy and fulfilling. Other days it can suck the life right out of you. This is the longest part of the routine. It requires focus for multiple hours at a time.

*Note: for most, this step is done with other people. Not all of whom are necessarily as good at it as you are. Requires patience, team work, perseverance and the ability to suck it up.

Step 5 (Up): get up and go home – as step 4 winds down, you find yourself looking forward to step 5. This is the “second wind” part of the daily routine. You’ve worked hard and you’re tired yet you suddenly feel a little rejuvenated. During the last few hours you’ve wanted to give up but you pushed through the pain and now you’re experiencing a new burst of energy.

*Note: as you make your way home this step is a good time to reflect on how good or bad step 4 was. Think about what you’ll do about it during the next routine. Also a good idea to do mentally prepare for step 6.

Step 6 (Down): reward yourself with some down time – Your workout is complete for today. Now you can do everything else you want or need to do. Be mindful however. Tomorrow’s sit-up routine is just around the corner. Reward yourself, but don’t overdo it. Soon you’ll need to put your body to rest so you can repeat the routine tomorrow.

*Note: You need to remain realistic during step 6. While this may sound like an easy do it with your eyes closed kind of step, you will find that the tension between ‘want to do’ and ‘need to do’ can sometimes put a damper on things.

There you have it. The sit-up routine for the ordinary joe.

Something tells me I may need to start adjusting my routine … that’s for another day.